Experience and Trust
Keeping a Product Alive
Flambeau has been bringing plastics to life since 1947. From inception to present day, our customers trust Flambeau’s industry experience to deliver quality medical devices and components on time, every time, and for a competitive value.
The Challenge – A Case Study
A global orthopedics company entrusted Flambeau to contract manufacture a minimally invasive surgical tool used in spinal surgery. The Class II device is a key component to the customer’s proprietary line of surgical instruments.
During Flambeau’s standard assembly development phase, both Flambeau and the customer realized the true costs of the product were significantly above budget expectations. Consequently, if our team could not find a way to drive out cost the business case for this particular product would be lost, and this life-enhancing device might never reach market.
In efforts to find a solution, executive teams from both sides relied on a partnership based on mutual trust. Without trust, each team member knew the project would fail. Knowing they could process costs out of the product, The Flambeau team committed to cost downs in order to make the product more viable and affordable. Next, Flambeau engineering teams from multiple sites (Phoenix, Baraboo, and Middlefield) collaborated on additional opportunities for cost reductions, modifying the product design for manufacturing purposes. Throughout the process audit, meaningful dialogue was established and practices from alternative manufacturing divisions were taken into account. With the assistance of key engineering personnel, QC management, and plant operations, a full process audit was performed and observations were recorded into the Flambeau database.
During their analysis of injection molding, over-molding and assembly processes, Flambeau engineers identified several areas for improvement, including:
• Unnecessary movements inside/outside of cleanroom
• Non-intuitive resource and location tracking
• Manufacturing quantities not conducive to cost efficiency
After multiple process iterations, the Flambeau team was able to establish a manufacturing and assembly process to eliminate waste and promote efficiency. Complete re-submissions of process parameters were required, along with a documented time and motion study. The necessary documentation was submitted on time and approved by the customer and the regulatory body.
Through a collaborative effort with the customer, Flambeau was able to reduce pricing by a healthy 31 percent. The cost saving process was a three-fold success. 1) The product line survived, and our customer was able to sell into the open market, resulting in sales and profit for their business. 2) The experience of a deep dive into the manufacturing of this specific product line caused Flambeau to become a competitive and highly regarded supplier of orthopedic products in the spine category. 3) Cost improvements and process improvements strengthened our relationship with the customer by demonstrating our medical manufacturing expertise.